MTN 8 Final Preview: AmaZulu

Orlando Pirates gear up for what’s perhaps their most important fixture so far this season – the MTN 8 final against AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

Two remain in the competition, and all roads lead to Durban where the first piece of silverware available in the ongoing campaign is on the line.

In their quest for their first trophy since triumphing at the same venue two years ago, the Buccaneers meet an ambitious Usuthu outfit determined to spoil the party on the weekend.

Form Guide 

José Riveiro’s troops are a step away from glory after going past Royal AM in the quarterfinals before forcing their way into the last two with a rather convincing 3-0 aggregate win over champions Mamelodi Sundowns, with all three goals coming in the away leg of the two-legged tie.

They have however stuttered along in league football, with just one victory claimed throughout October – a month where they managed to tally up five points in as many matches. 

Their most recent outing was a Soweto Derby defeat to rivals Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium, and nothing short of a victory will do when they step onto the field on Saturday. 

It will not be easy against an AmaZulu side fresh off victory in their most recent fixture – a 1-0 win away to Stellenbosch.

Usuthu will be looking for another Soweto scalp after edging past Chiefs in the semis through the away-goal rule, following their 2-1 quarterfinal win over Cape Town City earlier in the competition.

They have proven difficult to beat throughout the previous month, where they played to a total of four stalemates including two in the league, falling to a single defeat.

Team News 

Midfielder Miguel Timm is available for selection, following his brief absence enforced by suspension. 

The midfielder is one of a few players that could find themselves back in the match day squad after being sidelined along with Vincent Pule, who is back at full training after recovering from injury.

The Bucs camp is however not entirely without injury concerns, with skipper Innocent Maela in a race against time after limping off early during the Soweto Derby. 

For AmaZulu, it is likely that they will be without veteran striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who had to be withdrawn early during the league draw against Pirates midway through October. 

Key Players 

Monnapule Saleng (Orlando Pirates): The Buccaneers will have to be sharp in the attacking third if they are to win on Saturday, and the attacking midfielder has been a more-than-competent attacking component in the past few weeks. With four goals scored within the space of a month, Saleng has made himself near-indispensable and will command attention from the opposition defence throughout his time on the field.

Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu): The Bafana goalkeeper was the difference between victory and defeat when the two sides last met, and will again be a key player for Usuthu in the final. The shot-stopper’s experience will be needed in such a massive game, where successfully nullifying the Buccaneers’ attackers could prove to be the difference on the night. 

Head-to-Head 

A goal apiece ensured a stalemate when the two sides met in the league a short while ago, but it was a result that managed to stretch Pirates’ unbeaten run in this particular encounter.

Pirates were victorious the last time these two sides met in a cup game, with a second-half goal from Deon Hotto ensuring that they advance in the Nedbank Cup back in February. Meanwhile their last meeting in Top-Eight football came in 1994, where the Buccaneers came out 2-1 victors on the day.

Cup meetings between the League’s two oldest clubs have been a rare occurrence over the years, with a total of five played over the past 37 years. 

The Buccaneers have been the more successful side in knockout football, boasting four wins, with their only defeat in this period dating back as far as 1990.

How to Watch Orlando Pirates vs AmaZulu 

The MTN 8 final is scheduled to kick off at 18:00, and the game will be broadcast live on SuperSport PSL with the build-up starting an hour prior. 

Live updates will be available on social media across every Orlando Pirates platform.

Tickets for the game are sold out.
 

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